First of end-of-session budget bills introduced

The first - and largest - of a half-dozen budget bills which signal the end of the legislative session was introduced in the Nevada Senate on Saturday.

The Authorizations Act sets forth how all the non-general fund money in the budget will be spent over the next two years. That includes all federal funds, highway funds and a variety of other revenues such as student fees and tuition collected by the university system.

The total amount of money authorized to be spent by SB522 is $8.84 billion.

The Authorizations Act will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee this morning and sent to the floor of the Senate, where it will await action for a day to give members of the Legislature time to look it over.

Its primary companion measure, the Appropriations Act, is expected to be introduced some time today. That piece of legislation will set out how the estimated $5.85 billion general fund money will be spent over the biennium.

In addition, there will be separate measures to detail the budget for class size reduction in public schools, the $402 million Capital Improvement Projects budget and the salaries of all state unclassified employees - agency directors and their deputies as well as professionals including attorneys.

Those too should make their appearance today. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Monday.

The largest user of non-general fund money in the Authorizations Act is the Department of Human Resources, which will receive and expend more than $3.1 billion, almost all of it federal funding, on programs for the poor, the mentally ill and the disabled among others.

The largest amount is $1.97 billion dedicated to Medicaid programs. Mental Health and Developmental Services is budgeted to use $156.9 million in non-state money and the Health Division $294 million. Welfare programs will consume $348.8 million of the total.

The actual totals of those budgets is significantly higher when state general fund money is added in. In most of those programs, the match is roughly 50-50.

Public school budgets are in the spending plan for a projected $551.4 million in federal funding and the university system for $378.7 million in non-state funds.

The Department of Transportation will use $661.8 million primarily in Highway Funds and DMV will use $155.4 million in highway funds and fee revenue.

The Authorizations Act is necessary because, under state law, agencies must have permission not only to spend money from the state treasury but any outside revenues whether they come from the federal government, fees or any other source.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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